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Christian faith is Easter faith

The famous eighteenth century sceptic Voltaire is reported to have said, “It would be easy to start a new religion to compete with Christianity. All the founder would have to do is die and then be raised from the dead.” Voltaire was no friend of the Christian faith and I am sure he meant his comment to be ironic, but it is also very perceptive. Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation of our faith. Christianity stands or falls on the factualness of this event. Christian faith is really Easter faith because it is all based on what happened that first Easter.

According to the New Testament record, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead did two things that nothing else could have done. First, it confirmed Jesus’ identity. We should recall what He said to those who asked Him for a sign to prove His authority: “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days.” (St Jn: 2 vs 19). Jesus was speaking metaphorically, not about the literal temple but, as John explains, about the temple of His body. Nobody really understood Him at that time. It is obvious from the way they mistook Him that they were all quite mystified. But Jesus’ disciples somehow recalled what He had said and realised what He meant after He did rise from the dead. The key point is that the resurrection is the sign Jesus offered to establish his identity and to prove His authority. Jesus predicted His own death. There’s nothing unusual about that. Many great men have had premonitions about their own end. But Jesus also predicted His resurrection from death and that isn’t usual at all, especially if it actually happened.

A second thing that the resurrection did was to create the disciples’ faith. It is important to note that the fact of Jesus’ resurrection is based on the testimony of sceptics. Listen again to what St John says:
“After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.” (St. Jn 2 vs 22, italics mine). This statement is an insertion into the story, an editorial comment by John, the gospel writer, who is speaking here from a post-Easter perspective. The point is that they were not expecting Jesus to rise. They weren’t prepared for it; they weren’t even inclined to believe it at first.

The story of Jesus’ whole life and ministry, including His death and resurrection, is told as it happened in a way that is natural and artless, not invented. Some of those who disbelieved the resurrection say that Jesus’ resurrection was a story made up by the disciples to keep their faith alive. The historical account is exactly the opposite. The Apostles’ own testimony is not that they invented the story of the resurrection but that they themselves had to be convinced of it. Faith in Jesus did not create the resurrection. Rather, the resurrection created faith in Jesus.

Christian faith is certainly Easter faith. I am a Christian today because I believe that, just as sure as he died on the cross, Jesus also rose from the dead. And because He rose again, Jesus is shown to be God. He is not only to be trusted, He is to be worshipped and served. But Easter faith is more than just faith that Jesus arose. It is also faith in the truths that His resurrection proves.

Because Jesus arose, right will triumph over wrong in the end. It could be argued that the death of Jesus Christ is history’s greatest crime. He was put to death by judicial murder in the grossest perversion of justice. Everyone involved agreed that He was innocent. But still they crucified Him. Jesus’ death was the supreme example of how life can be in a world where the innocent are done in by the guilty, and the weak ground under by the strong, where good people suffer, and where trust is overcome by lies, and the poor are always the ones to be victimised. But the resurrection says otherwise. In raising Jesus, God has reversed man’s judgement. He has established the truth, vindicating the innocent and exalting the righteous, as He will do for everyone some day. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we believe that justice will be done in the end and will be seen to have been done. Every wrong will be righted, with all evil overthrown and goodness rewarded. In the face of the world’s injustice, Easter faith produces not cynicism, but hope.

Because of the resurrection of Jesus, life is full of meaning and purpose. A news magazine once published an article on the meaning of life, in which a number of people were asked to respond to the, question, “Why are we here?” Two of the answers I found very striking! They were from very different people, but they were remarkably similar. One was from a taxi driver, who said, “We’re here to die, just live and die.” The other answer came from a well known musician. His response to the question, “Why are we here?” “No, why, just here!” If death is the end, then they are right. There is really no answer, no point to anything, no hope. But if Jesus has risen from the dead, then there is something else to say. We have a future, and because we have a future, our present has meaning. In the face of the emptiness of earthly existence without Christ, Easter faith tells us not to despair but to hope.

Lastly, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, for Christians death leads to everlasting life. Near the end of his life, the Apostle Paul offered this word of encouragement to his young friend Timothy:
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.” (2 Tim: 2 vs 8). It is not just that Jesus rose from the dead long ago, but that He is risen here and now. He is alive. He is with us and because of that even in the face of death, Easter faith produces not fear but hope.

In April 1945, a few days before the end of the war in Germany, a special order went out to the Plossenberg Concentration Camp to execute a prisoner named Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who had been arrested several years earlier for his anti-Nazi activities. It was a Sunday morning. As the footsteps of the execution detail sounded in the corridor outside, Bonhoeffer looked up at the little circle of prisoners whom he had been leading in prayer. “This is the end” he said, “but for me the beginning of life.” Easter failh, faith in Jesus who died and rose again, makes that possible, and much more, for all who believe!

Rev Charles N. Jansz


A piece of advice for voters

Nowadays the talk of the town is about the forthcoming general election to be held in April 2010. As we all aware during the election period the candidates fall at the feet of the masses to win the heart of the voters and give lots of promises verbally, through leaflets and on the political stage etc. On the other hand, all citizens of Sri Lanka are duty bound to work towards the development of our Motherland and safeguard the integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka.

Now the issue is these candidates who are vying for the General Election and if elected to Parliament what guarantee and assurance that they offer to the voters whether they will fulfill the aspirations of the people? Every M.P. should keep in his mind that it is compulsory duty to serve and look into to the interests and grievances of the people at all times irrespective of caste, creed, race, and political colour. This is what they say on political stages and meetings but once they come to power they forget all what they said and behave in a different way letting down voters.

In a real democracy, politicians should not give false promises to the voters and thereby they themselves lose their dignity and self-respect.
My appeal to voters is to select correct people to Parliament and ensure democracy on April 8.

Ashraff Nazim







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